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Tag:Zack Cozart
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:22 pm
 

Spring primer: Cincinnati Reds



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leaving the National League Central, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty saw an opportunity to take the division. Jocketty traded two of the team's top prospects to San Diego for Mat Latos and fortified the bullpen with the additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall. With Joey Votto under contract for just the next two years, the Reds see these two years as their best chance to win, and the team is going for it.

Major additions: RHP Mat Latos, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Sean Marshall, OF Ryan Ludwick
Major departures: RHP Francisco Cordero, RHP Edinson Volquez, C Ramon Hernandez, 1B Yonder Alonso

Probable lineup
1. Brandon Phillips 2B
2. Zack Cozart SS
3. Joey Votto 1B
4. Scott Rolen 3B
5. Jay Bruce RF
6. Ryan Ludwick LF
7. Drew Stubbs CF
8. Ryan Hanigan C

Probable rotation
1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mat Latos
3. Bronson Arroyo
4. Mike Leake
5. Homer Bailey

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Ryan Madson
Set-up: LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Nick Masset, LHP Bill Bray

Important bench players
C Devin Mesoraco, OF Chris Heisey, 3B Juan Francisco

Prospect to watch
The Reds sent Alonso to San Diego in the deal that brought Latos to Cincinnati, making many nervous about the post-Votto era. If Votto doesn't re-sign with the Reds, many saw Alonso as the heir apparent. Now that Alonso's out of the picture, the first baseman of the future is Neftali Soto. The 23-year-old was the team's third-round pick in 2007 and played shortstop, third base and catcher in addition to first base. But the team finally left him at first in 2011. The reason the team kept moving him was that his bat has never been an issue. Last season he hit 30 home runs in just 102 games at Double-A Carolina, missing a month with a broken bone in his left wrist. He doesn't walk much (just 103 walks and 375 strikeouts in five minor-league seasons), but he has plenty of power to all fields, with 10 of his 31 homers (including one in four games at Triple-A) were opposite field shots.

Fantasy sleeper: Homer Bailey
"The Reds have been conservative with Bailey and the team hopes that their caution will pay off this season. If he can stay healthy, Bailey has an excellent chance for a breakout season, as he has made steady improvements in his pitch selection, control and efficiency." -- Al Melchior [Full Reds fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Ryan Ludwick
"Some observers have pointed to Ludwick's career line at Great American Ball Park (.276/.321/.600) as a sign of an impending comeback season, and it's true that he has had the misfortune of playing in pitchers' parks for most of his career. However, Ludwick has just 19 plate appearances at GABP over the last two years, a time period during which he has seen an erosion of his power numbers, both at home and on the road." -- Al Melchior [Full Reds fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Not only does Cueto improve upon his breakout 2011, but Latos is even better than he was in the second half of 2011, giving the Reds a dominant and young top of the rotation. Add to that a healthy Arroyo and see Bailey live up to his immense potential -- and the Reds have one of the best rotations in the National League. The offense continues to put up runs and Cincinnati eases into the postseason past the fading Cardinals and Brewers.

Pessimistic outlook
Injuries and unfulfilled potential lead to the second straight season of disappointment on the Ohio River. Not only does the starting pitching falter, but Stubbs breaks Mark Reynolds' single-season strikeout record, Bruce isn't able to make adjustments and rookies Mesoraco and Cozart play like rookies at the two most important defensive positions on the diamond. Milwaukee and St. Louis once again are the class of the division, while Pittsburgh improves and not only breaks its 19-year streak of losing seasons, but also leapfrogs the Reds for third in the NL Central. Adding insult to injury, Phillips leaves as a free agent and with the team in flux, Votto is sent away for prospects and another rebuilding job is underway.

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Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Saturday rumors: Kuroda, A's and more

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Saturday's the last day at home for a couple of days for most in baseball, as the winter meetings kick off Monday in Dallas -- and that goes for reporters, as well. That meant a rather light day in rumors, but expect things to pick up on Sunday and then go fast and furious on Monday. Last year news of Jayson Werth's deal with the Nationals came on the day before the start of the meetings, so that goes to show things don't just go down in the hotel lobby.

Hiroki KurodaThe news of Chris Capuano's signing with the Dodgers seemed to signal the end of Hiroki Kuroda's time in Los Angeles, and maybe even his time in the United States. However, the Rockies are pursuing Kuroda (Denver Post). Kuroda's also been mentioned as a possibility for the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, Rangers and others. Kuroda blocked deals to the Tigers and Red Sox last season. WEEI.com reports Kuroda is open to pitching in Boston. His former team in Japan, the Hiroshima Carp, have also offered him a contract.

The A's could be popular in Dallas, as the team has pitching for sale. "I wouldn't rule anybody out," assistant GM David Forst told the San Francisco Chronicle. The A's are looking for an outfielder in return. Closer Andrew Bailey is among the most popular trade targets on the team, already drawing attention from the Rangers, Blue Jays, Reds, Padres, Mets and Mariners. (Chicago Tribune)

Someone put in a bid for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Seibu Lions are expected to accept the bid, regardless of the amount. (Kyodo News)

Matt Garza's agent told the Cubs' right-hander to prepare for "an active winter meetings." Garza told him he'd be in Italy. Garza was dealt from the Rays to the Cubs last offseason and is under team control through 2013. The Cubs have let it be known that they're open to trading just about anyone. (MLB.com)

The Rockies are interested in Japanese second baseman Kensuke Tanaka. The left-handed hitter played in just 49 games this past season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters because of an ankle injury, but is said to be healthy now. (FoxSports.com)

The Red Sox will meet with Bob Garber, the agent for C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt, during the winter meetings. (Boston Herald)

Not many have thought that Rays general manager Andrew Friedman would consider taking the Astros' GM job, but free agent outfielder Johnny Damon seems to think it's a possibility. "He's not going to sign me and then leave," Damon told the Boston Globe of Friedman. "If he goes to Houston, his hometown, he's going to try and bring me along with him. That's where my waiting game is." Damon also said he told David Ortiz to play in New York and take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

Casey Blake is drawing interest from nine teams, including the Indians. He can play both corner outfield spots and both corner infield spots. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The White Sox are looking to trade for a starter and an outfielder and are dangling John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Matt Thornton. Among the teams that could be a match are the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Reds and Braves. (Chicago Tribune)

Tim WakefieldKnuckleballer Tim Wakefield said he has a "strong desire" to pitch for the Red Sox next season. The 45-year-old needs seven wins to surpass Roger Clemens and Cy Young as the franchise's all-time leader. (Boston Herald)

The Reds held their annual RedsFest in Cincinnati this weekend, so there's plenty of news from the banks of the Ohio thanks to the media availability of GM Walt Jocketty, manager Dusty Baker and most of the team's roster and top prospects. Jocketty said the team is looking for a "top of the rotation" starter and have targeted six different players, but didn't name any of them. Jocketty also said the team had looked at Detroit infielder Ramon Santiago as a backup shortstop, and would ideally like to sign a left-handed hitter or switch hitter to back up Zack Cozart (Cincinnati Enquirer). Baker said the team is looking both internally and externally for a closer, but will not have a closer by committee to replace Francisco Cordero (MLB.com). 

Follow all the moves with the CBSSports.com free agent tracker.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:13 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

During the series, we've seen some lineups that would be completely foreign to the hometown fans, and some a little less so. The homegrown Cincinnati Reds, for better or worse, look quite similar to the team that took the field at Great American Ball Park this past season. While there are similar strengths, the same problems also crop up.

Lineup

1. Jay Bruce, RF
2. Justin Turner, 2B
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Adam Dunn, LF
5. Juan Francisco, 3B
6. Drew Stubbs, CF
7. Devin Mesoraco, C
8. Zack Cozart, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mike Leake
3. Homer Bailey
4. Travis Wood
5. Zach Stewart

Bullpen

Closer - Aroldis Chapman
Set up - Todd Coffey, Logan Ondrusek, Jordan Smith, Josh Roenicke, Enerio Del Rosario
Long - Sam LeCure

Notable Bench Players

Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Adam Rosales, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Heisey, Chris Denorfia, Chris Dickerson. The Reds hypothetical situation behind the plate is the same as their current situation, one underrated catcher and two promising prospects, a problem most teams would envy. The hypothetical Reds also have no real spot for Alonso, although a short leash on Dunn could have this homegrown team toy with the notion of trying Alonso in left -- just like the real Reds.

What's Good?

The lineup's going to put up runs, that's for sure. There are some lineup construction problems, but this team can flat out hit, especially in their home ballpark. The defense isn't as good as it is in real life, it's still not too bad (with the exception of Dunn). The team has a lot of talent behind the plate and the bench is deep with some versatility.

What's Not?

The Reds were unable to repeat their 2010 division title in large part because of the failings of their starting rotation -- that's not fixed with these five. There's also no real answer to the team's search for a leadoff man, just like the real Reds. This bullpen isn't as experienced or strong as the real thing, either.

Comparison to real 2011

While there are some key personel missing, like Brandon Phillips and Francisco Cordero, there's also an added boost to the lineup of Dunn (we'll just assume he would have performed closer to his career numbers than his historically bad 2011 in the familiar confines of Great American Ball Park than in Chicago), the offense would have been about the same. The pitching, though, is still a problem, so this squad may fair a bit worse than the team's 79-83 record. However, the team is interesting, talented and young.

Next: Kansas City Royals

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:28 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Cincinnati Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Cincinnati Reds
Record: 79-83, 3rd place, 17 games back
Manager: Dusty Baker
Best hitter: Joey Votto -- .309/.416/.531 with 29 HR, 103 RBI
Best pitcher:Johnny Cueto -- 9-5, 24 GS, 156 IP, 2.31 ERA, 104 K, 47 BB

Coming off the 2010 National League Central title with pretty much the same team intact, the Reds were expected to challenge for the title again. However, the team could never quite get consistent starting pitching and were on the outside looking in by the All-Star break, close enough not to become sellers at the deadline and ultimately irrelevant for the last two months of the season.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Cueto took a step forward in his development and Votto showed he was anything but a one-hit wonder, while Brandon Phillips played at an All-Star level. Other than that, most every other Cincinnati Red took a step back from their 2010 performance. Bronson Arroyo and Drew Stubbs set dubious marks -- Arroyo allowing 46 homers and Stubbs striking out 205 times. Opening-day starter Edinson Volquez was twice demoted to the minors and third baseman Scott Rolen was limited to just 65 games. Lefty Travis Wood struggled in his second year and right-hander Homer Bailey has yet to find consistency. The team's gaping holes at shortstop and left field were magnified and its rotation wasn't as deep as promised in the spring. In all, disappointment was all around in 2011 as Cincinnati was unable to defend its crown.

2012 AUDIT

The Reds need to follow the lead of the Brewers, who decided to go for it in 2011 instead of worrying what would happen when Prince Fielder left. The Reds still have two more years of Votto, they need to take advantage of that and try to win before Votto goes to greener pastures, not fret about what's going to happen in two years. The Reds still need some help at the top of their rotation, a right-handed power bat for the middle of the lineup and to make a decision about left field and shortstop.

FREE AGENTS

CL Francisco Cordero (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
2B Brandon Phillips (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
C Ramon Hernandez
SS Edgar Renteria
LHP Dontrelle Willis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sell high on first baseman Yonder Alonso. In his first extensive big-league action, the 2008 first-rounder was impressive, hitting .330/.398/.545, displaying a keen understanding of the strike zone. That said, the Reds struggled to find places to play him, considering he's a first baseman and the guy they have there is one of the game's best players. Alonso played 16 games in left field, and aside from a rough weekend in Wrigley Field, didn't embarrass himself. He also played a game at third base without a single ball coming his way. In the end, he's a first baseman. That's where he'll thrive and that's where some team could certainly use him -- just not the Reds. See what you can get for Alonso in a package or straight up. At 24, he's young for a major leaguer, but old for a prospect. His highest value is this offseason.
  • Make a play for a true ace. Yes, Cueto has the potential to be an ace and he looked at times to be an ace this season. However, the Brewers could have said the same thing about Yovani Gallardo after last season. Be bold and bolster the top of the rotation. The Reds were second in the National League in runs scored and fifth in OPS -- there's enough offense to win if the pitching is sound. Sure up the rotation and by default you sure up the bullpen. The Brewers thought bold and they didn't have half the farm system the Reds have. You can send some combination Alonso, Billy Hamilton and one of the two catchers -- Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal -- away in a deal or two for true front-of-the-rotation help.
  • Pick up Phillips' option, but don't sign him to the long-term deal he's seeking. Phillips will win his third Gold Glove this year and is as good as anyone defensively. He also hit .300/.353/.457. However, he'll be looking for a Dan Uggla-like deal (five years, $62 million), and that's just not something the Reds can afford, especially at non-premium position like second base. He adjusted well to the leadoff role late in the season, hitting .350/.417/.573 in 39 games (38 starts) at the top of the order, but he's still a career .322 OBP guy and his .353 on-base percentage this season was a career-best by .021, aided by a career-best .322 BABIP. Bottom line is he's the best second baseman in the National League, but that comes at a price -- and a price the Reds won't be able to afford past this season.
  • Speaking of not overpaying a specific position, the team vastly overpaid for closer Cordero after the 2007 season, giving him a four-year, $46 million deal plus a $12 million club option for 2012. There's no reason to pick that option up, even though the team has reportedly been talking about an extension with Cordero. Any extension would likely be two years for more than the $12 million he'd make by just picking up the option for next year, but would include a yearly pay cut. Again, that's a move big market teams can afford, but the Reds cannot. Even with likely deferred payments (much like last season's Arroyo extension), Cordero is too costly. He's done his job well in his time in Cincinnati, solidifying a bullpen that had been in tatters before his arrival, but it's too much to pay for a closer. Follow the lead of the Rays and Diamondbacks who were able to rebuild bullpens for less than $12 million based on scrap parts. It's risky, but no more risky (and less expensive) than paying inflated prices for relievers.
  • The team held on to Hernandez even when other teams were desperate for catching. That means either nobody was that desperate for catching, or Hernandez and his agents already told the team he would not accept arbitration -- or both. If the Reds can offer Hernandez arbitration without danger of him accepting it, they'd likely receive two draft picks if Hernandez qualifies as a Type A free agent. With Ryan Hanigan signed through 2013 at a team-friendly rate and Mesoraco left with nothing left to prove in the minors, it's time to move on from Hernandez, who has been productive in his time in Cincinnati. They also have Grandal waiting in the wings, plus Tucker Barnhart, who won the Minor League Gold Glove at catcher.
  • If the Reds are going to go young at shortstop with Zack Cozart and in left field with Chris Heisey, they need to commit to it -- no messing around with another veteran shortstop that will just take up playing time, like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera. In left, Heisey needs to play and play more, even against left-hander, even though he struggled against them. Juan Francisco has improved at third base and should be the first choice if Rolen isn't healthy.
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Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
 

Pepper: Where will Bubba Starling end up?

Starling

By Evan Brunell

TOUGH DECISION: Bubba Starling has a choice -- accept a hefty bonus and head to the minor leagues for a few years in the hope he can rise up the ladder and join the Royals. The hometown athlete was drafted by Kansas City in June but he has yet to sign with the deadline coming up on Monday. Starling has a tough decision to make -- join K.C. or head to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where fame as a quarterback awaits.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Starling told the Kansas City Star.

Starling was at the University of Nebraska signing autographs and fans obviously were rooting for Starling to opt to join the Cornhuskers. The problem is, that's a lot of money for Starling to give up to play football, a sport that's more dangerous to overall long-term health.

“If it was my son, I’d probably tell him to play baseball,” fan Kevin Sullivan said. “But, you know, if he’s going to play Nebraska football …” (Kansas City Star)

BIZARRE INJURY
: There's always a few injuries each season that make you do a double-take. Chris Narveson was a victim of such an injury, slicing his thumb with scissors while trying to repair his glove. He required eight stitches and will miss his next start. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

BACK TO SCHOOL: Zachary Houchins, the Nationals' 15th round pick, is heading back to college. “I haven’t had [contact with the Nationals] any since all that stuff happened,” Houchins said. “I’m set on going back to school. ... I’m happy with it. I’d love to go back there.”

Houchins is referring to epithets used to describe African-Americans, homosexuals and Chinese on his Twitter feed in June, since deleted. The Nationals were upset with his words, which Houchins admitted they had a right to be. Houchins added, though, that the comments weren't hateful and just part of how he and his friends (many African-American) talk.

“Honestly, in my eyes, there was no lesson to learn,” Houchins said. “It’s just what I said got blown out of proportion, and I paid the price for it.” (Washington Post)

CLUTCH: Matthew Leach runs through a list of players who have been clutch so far this season. The one thing that caught my eye is Asdrubal Cabrera's performance with the bases loaded -- a pristine 6 for 6. (MLB.com)

INJURY PROBLEMS: Paul Konerko's left calf strain has made lineup maneuverings tough for skipper Ozzie Guillen, and if the White Sox had gone into extra innings last night, would have done so without a DH when Konerko was pinch-run for by Brent Lillibridge, with Lillibridge moving to first for the ninth. (Chicago Tribune)

LYNN, TOO: Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn strained his left oblique in Tuesday's game and will hit the disabled list, depriving the team of one of its most dependable late-inning relievers. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SURGERY: Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is likely to undergo surgery to repair a hyperextended left elbow, and would prefer to get it over with sooner rather than later. (Cincinnati.com)

LOPEZ ... HEPING? There's a piece up today about Felipe Lopez, who supposedly doing well in Milwaukee after coming over from Tampa Bay, starting nine of the last 10 games. How someone hitting .235/.289/.235 in 34 at-bats (which was conveniently omitted from the story) is doing well is not clear. (MLB.com)

LAST RING: Bengie Molina was at the Rangers game on Tuesday, collecting his AL championship ring -- the last ring Texas needed to hand out. He also threw out the first pitch and told his ex-teammates not to waste their strong season. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

SANTO STATUE: The Cubs will unveil a statue of Ron Santo on Wednesday. In the article, an interesting tidbit: Kerry Wood only returned to the Cubs because he ran into GM Jim Hendry at Santo's funeral in December. (Chicago Tribune)

ILLEGAL BALLS: An independent baseball team, the Lake County Fielders, had a game suspended Friday night for claims that the team provided inferior baseballs to be used. These baseballs were not sanctioned for professional use, but were still brand new and purchased from a sporting goods store. In financial trouble, the team hadn't placed its order to Rawlings for the baseballs until it was too late, and umpires decided the baseballs weren't acceptable. League officials have since approved their usage. (DailyHerald.com)

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 8:18 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 8:47 pm
 

Reds change course, Willis to start Sunday

By Matt Snyder

Just a day after leaving Dontrelle Willis in the minors, the Reds have optioned Edinson Volquez and Paul Janish to Triple-A. In return prospect shortstop Zack Cozart will join the Reds and get the majority of the starts at short and Willis is going to take the hill for the Reds Sunday (Reds Blog).

This will be the second stint in Triple-A this season for Volquez, even though he was the Reds' opening day starter. He has struggled across the board, with a 5.93 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 55 walks and 15 home runs allowed in just 85 innings. You have to wonder how much longer the Reds will let Volquez struggle before just shipping him off. They have lots of starting pitching options and he likely has some trade value considering his one really good season wasn't that long ago.

Willis, 29, is a two-time All-Star who once finished second in Cy Young voting (2005), but had fallen on really hard times the past few seasons. He's 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 75 1/3 Triple-A innings this season.

Cozart, 25, was hitting .310 with 26 doubles, seven home runs, 32 RBI and nine steals for Triple-A.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com